What were we up to during the winter?

The winter down season can be a challenging time for a business that primarily operates outdoors and in the soil. DC had its fair share of below freezing temperatures and snow storms this past winter. Now that it’s officially spring we have a bustling work schedule to manage but would like to take a moment to brief you on some wintertime happenings in hindsight.

Staghorn sumac covered in icicles
Staghorn sumac covered in icicles

Since most of the plants we work with go dormant in the winter and because the soil is often frozen we can move our attention from planting and focus on other custom build projects such as retaining walls, hardscapes (patios and walkways), and fencing, as long as it’s not too cold to work outside. Here’s a couple in progress snapshots from a backyard redesign project we worked on in Columbia Heights.

In progress patio made of Pennsylvania stepper stones
In progress patio made of Pennsylvania stepper stones
During construction of fencing at the same property as above

We also did some wood processing by turning old tree trunks into usable lumber. We try to incorporate reclaimed or repurposed materials into our custom designs as much as possible.

Our rain garden and bayscape installations for the RiverSmart Homes program are usually put on hold in the winter as well, but a lot of preparatory work like meeting with clients and producing design drawings gets done so we can get right back to the physical installation work once it’s warm enough. Some of our team members were also diligently studying for a training session with the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute for installing permeable pavers, another way of reducing storm water runoff.

Since our installation projects have grown in size we’ve found ourselves transporting a lot of earth and materials to and from work sites. To simplify this task we acquired our first truck with a hydraulic dump bed to better facilitate offloading compostable trash at waste management sites and transporting heavier loads. Co-Owner Jeremy built a ladder, shelves and new cedar siding for the truck.

new truck
New dump truck!

This year we constructed a cold frame for our plant nursery to protect perennial plugs from the cold and snowy DC winter. In addition to sourcing plants from local growers we propagate our own perennials (about 60% of our nursery inventory) which we need to protect from extreme weather conditions because their roots are not as well established as mature plants.

coldframe2We’re receiving new shipments of plants for the spring season like Tiarella cordifolia, Heuchera ‘Dale’s Strain,’ and Baptisia australis. They’re just beginning to emerge from winter dormancy but they’ll eventually look like this!


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